Design Thinking Implement in STEAM Education

NAYTEA co-hosted the STEAM Talent Workshop with Tencent on December 15th in Shenzhen, China. More than 100 students and their families participated in progressive problem-solving activities. Sharon Xuexing Feng, founder of NAYTEA, moderated the event and welcomed participants with the observation that often there is no single “right” answer to a problem while there can be many solutions. Today students are encouraged to find their own answer.

This exciting event was organized around the work of Flint Christensen and Gioya DeSouza-Fennelly who demonstrated innovative methods for teaching STEAM curriculum. Mr. Christensen is a member of the faculty at Piedmont High School in San Francisco, California, and Ms. DeSouza-Fennelly is a STEM Instructor at Columbia University Graduate Teachers College in New York City, New York. Both served as judges for the 2019 STEAM Curriculum Developers Competition recently concluded in Shanghai, China. Mr. Christensen explained and enlisted student participation in the process of computational thinking as a method of solving problems. This approach parallels the process of designing computer programs and embodies the following four stages: decomposition, pattern recognition, pattern generalization and abstraction, and algorithm design. It facilitates the use of computers and other tools by logically organizing and analyzing data.

Ms. DeSouza-Fennelly organized the participant experience around design thinking which incorporates the ability to empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. She challenged students to design a chair for Neil, an astronaut with special needs. How will he sit in space given that he has to wear a bulky space suit? What must be different about his chair?

  Students had the opportunity to apply various approaches to problem solving under time constraints while also developing the collaborative skills necessary to function as effective members of a team. The event culminated with each of the 17 teams giving presentations to the audience and a specially selected team of judges. The presentations highlighted the importance of being able to articulately explain their solutions.

NAYTEA announced plans to host similar workshops in China and other regions of the world which involve young people in learning and utilizing the skills necessary to solve real world problems that improve their lives and make the world a better place for everyone.